Liza Johnston, APC, NCC, MS • 404-757-3250
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Viktor Frankl
As an adult, we’ve had many years where we have learned to deny our feelings, censor ourselves, and discount our own experiences. We most likely are not even aware we are doing this to ourselves. We can work to relearn how we experience our lives and how we treat ourselves through greater use of awareness and the use of the powerful “pause.”
According to Daniels and Dion,* the pause represents our entering into a small opening where we can “hold” back our impulse to react immediately. Rather than reacting without paying attention, we can transform this impulse into a mindful response brought about by choice. With practice and awareness, we can contain the urge to act quickly; this containment is not about denying our feelings. This containment involves observation of our emotions and our thoughts in the moment, in order to give us space to respond with compassion to ourselves.
We can begin to practice containment with the use of our breath by referring to our inhales and exhales as the means to come home to ourselves. There are many websites, podcasts, and apps that can be used to help us become attuned to our breath, our emotional experience, and our thoughts. Find the one that suits your needs the most.
Learning to take a “pause” is a strong way we can begin to recognize our inner process and work to soften it. For example, we might say to ourselves, “Why am I always so anxious? It’s so annoying! I’m so mad at myself!” These inner thoughts and emotions of self-judgment and self-reflection are harmful to us, and our breathwork can help us see this damaging self-talk.
Taking a pause encourages us to change our unhealthy patterns and show curiosity and compassion towards ourselves. The above damaging self-talk could instead flow as. “Oh, I feel agitated, hmm, where is that coming from?” This comment recognizes our emotions and shows curiosity for ourselves. By practicing the pause, we can eventually relate more healthily to ourselves and those around us.
*David Daniels and Suzanne Dion, The Enneagram, Relationships and Intimacy.